There is a lot of evidence to support the claim that people learn via experience. For this reason, many schools include hands on educational games and most museums geared toward children have interactive exhibitions. Yet the simplest way to learn can also be about observing things in their natural environment and this is especially true when children are being taught about animals and the earth.
A critical part of the science curriculum is learning about ecosystems and animals. Traveling into parks and observing animals like squirrels and birds in their natural habitat is an incredible way to incorporate a field trip into the lesson plan and apply the contents of the subject while actively engaging with nature.
Birds are a particularly fascinating addition to the animal kingdom due to their diversity, beauty, and complicated social and communicative styles. Birds from seagulls to geese to sparrows all have certain traits in common but they are also wildly different creatures and, when observing them in their natural outdoor habitats, it is easy to become enthralled with each birds different call, unique plumage and particular antics. Bird watching is also an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and because birds are so highly adaptable it can be done anywhere. Bird watches do spend a great deal of time in the woods (as expected) but they also frequent beaches and even cities to spot feathered specimens. In fact, in Central Park, a group of bird watchers have been monitoring a hawk named Pale Male for years!
Bird watching associations and groups can be found everywhere although many people prefer to bird watch alone or with a small group of friends or family. The Internet has made it easier for bird watching communities all over the world to connect and share information about the birds they have spotted. Birdwatching.com is one such website that offers tips for effective bird watching and photos of all sorts of birds. Bird watching is a great activity for homeschooling families to incorporate as a learning tool and a chance for a fun day. Better yet, technology like cameras and videos on phones make it easier than ever to record and remember what was seen while out in nature.
Although New York is most commonly associated with a huge city, there are many more places that are rural and woodsy and Long Island has fantastic beaches. For anyone who is lucky enough to live in New York there are an abundance of places to go to see wildlife. Alley Pond Park, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Bear Mountain, Jones Beach, Niagara Falls, and Central Park are all within New York state and each and every one of these places provides opportunities to learn about ecosystems and develop a sense of compassion towards the animals that we share the earth with. In fact, even your own back yard can be a great source of bird watching and garden growing!
Teaching about ecosystems and animals makes children more aware of the wider world. Perhaps when they are older these early lessons will provoke them to explore other countries and landscapes. However, the best way to start exploring the world is to take advantage of the opportunities right inside one’s own hometown and bird watching is an especially fun way to start appreciating nature.